Mike’s Favorite Movie Trailers of 2014

Today I’ll be going over my favorite movie trailers of 2014.

We all watch trailers. It’s unavoidable. I deliberately try not to watch trailers, yet somehow, by the end of the year, when I’m doing this article, I find myself having already seen a great deal of them. They play at least three of them before any movie in theaters. Youtube videos have them as ads beforehand. We see them every day.

Like movie posters, it’s hard to make a memorable trailer nowadays. One that actually gets you excited to see a movie. Most trailers regurgitate the entire plot in two and a half minutes, and you end up knowing exactly what you’re getting, with no surprises. Apparently people need comfort and familiarity. I like when trailers try to do something different and memorable. The goal of a trailer is to get you to go, “I’m ready to see this movie.” Even if you know what it is. You want it to whet your appetite for the product. Not show you the product, to the point where, when certain jokes or moments happen, you don’t react as strongly because you’ve seen them three times in the trailer. The best trailers are the ones that get you to go, “I didn’t think I wanted to see that movie before, and now I do.” So I try to pick out the trailers that I feel accomplish that each year.

I’ll preface this list by saying — these are only trailers from movies that came out in 2014. Not trailers from 2015 films that came out in 2014. I hate when people do that. We all know my problem with people calling these the 2015 Oscars when they’re clearly for 2014. These are 2014 trailers for the films of 2014, and nothing else.

Here are my favorite trailers of 2014:

25. 300: Rise of an Empire

Because this actually made me go from indifferent to, “This could actually be really good.” The purpose of a trailer is to make you excited to see a movie. And this did just that. I saw it in 3D, in IMAX, and I went, “Damn, that’s gonna look good.” I have to put this on here over other trailers because it amps up the epic and makes you really excited for the film.

24. The Double

Because it perfectly captures the dark, absurdist nature of the movie. It’s paced very well, and really makes you want to see just what the hell the movie is about. It’s such a great trailer. And the use of music is perfect. It also gives away nothing, which is impressive.

23. The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby

Because I’m a sucker for the romance. I’m not ashamed. This is the kind of trailer that appeals to me. That’s all.

22. Foxcatcher

It does a great job of ratcheting up the tension over the course of the trailer. It’s just well put-together.

21. Tusk

Because it’s about a dude getting turned into a fucking walrus! It starts like a typical bad movie trailer, and then just gets weird. And then there’s the punchline of, “I don’t wanna die in Canada.” It’s a good trailer. Really makes you go, “What the fuck is that gonna be about?”

20. Men, Women and Children

I chose this one over the others, just because of the lack of dialogue. It tells you what it’s about really well. Everyone on social networking, isolated from one another, having all sorts of identity issues and personal issues. This is the world today. Reitman is always good for a memorable trailer. He cares about his product. And I’m very grateful for that.

19. Nightcrawler

It looks like a modern day Taxi Driver. It’s just completely off the wall, and makes me want to see the movie. It’s got that, “Things are darker under the surface than they seem” mentality.

18. X-Men: Days of Future Past

Still not sure how to feel about the continued use of the Sunshine score in trailers, but other than that, it’s really good. I saw this a bunch, because it came out early, but it’s good. It sets up the story, gives you the characters, makes the situation epic and dire, and really connects both sets of the franchise in a tangible way. It brings back the originals and keeps with the First Class people, and really makes you excited to see what they do with the movie. I’d actually argue that the trailer is better than the movie. (And the movie’s pretty damn good.) I also like that the money shot of the trailer is the two shot of McAvoy and Stewart. This is a movie that knows where its priorities are.

17. Unbroken

Look, I’m a sucker for the uplifting, classy movie trailer. This is as by the numbers as they come. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing. The use of music keeps this rousing. The difference between movie posters and movie trailers is that with trailers, you can follow a well-worn format and still work, because it’s about this story, and not the trailer format. The poster — not as much. So even though we’ve seen this kind of trailer before, it works, because it makes you interested to see this particular story, and makes it look epic and all those things great movies are made of. Gotta say, though, if this movie falls flat, it’s gonna fall hard. Because they’re calling their shot with this. That’s confidence.

16. Comet

I’m gonna come out and say it — it takes balls to go for the Eternal Sunshine aesthetic. You also have no idea what this movie is. (And it’s actually coming out today. So the jury’s out on whether or not it’s gonna be any good.) But it looks like it has fantastical elements, and looks like it has the potential to be really, really good. I’m also a sucker for the romance trailer. So there’s also that. But tell me this doesn’t at least intrigue you a little bit. That’s what a good trailer is.

15. Selma

I actually saw this trailer for the first time before Interstellar. It’s really well-done. Great use of Common. I’m starting to become a fan of trailers taking well-known songs and dropping beats on them. (Think Argo using “Dream On” and giving it a little extra kick.) And then dropping it out and bringing it back — that’s my shit. Seriously, the last minute of this trailer it awesome. Manipulative as hell, but I don’t care. The purpose of a movie trailer is to be manipulative. You’re allowed to do whatever you need to sell your movie. And this movie does it well. I went from not really caring one way or another about this to really wanting to see it.

14. Mr. Turner

I honestly can’t explain this one. I just really liked the trailer. It makes this movie seem like — well, I’ll be honest. I saw this movie. The trailer is better. Nice use of music. Makes things grand. This is actually a way better trailer than this movie needs. And I’m surprised I still like it even after having seen the movie. But this is a good trailer. Makes me want to see it. And I have, already.

13. The Mule

Yes. That’s all I’m gonna say is, “Yes.” Because after seeing that, don’t you want to watch this movie? One of my favorite trailers of the year.

12. Life Itself

Go ahead and argue with this one. You can’t.

11. Guardians of the Galaxy

Builds it up, takes it down, then builds it up again. Mostly it’s the soundtrack. This trailer is nothing without the music. Plus, it sets you up for what the movie is about. Gives it that fun, underdog, misfit feel. Which is what this movie has going for it. Plus, also — the music.

10. Gone Girl

This one is all about the music. David Fincher always turns out a good trailer, and always finds a song just left of center to present his trailers with, and it’s always great. Also, if you’ve seen the movie, this is a wickedly cheeky song choice. More people should care about every aspect of their films the way Fincher cares about his.

9. American Sniper

This probably gives away the opening sequence of the movie, but whatever. This is the movie. Sniper, has to make split second decisions that mean life or death. And if he’s wrong, he “fries.” Perfect. Great editing, the use of the home stuff sparingly in the moments when he has to make his decision. Great stuff. This is what trailers are made of.

8. Whiplash

This is a great trailer, and it doesn’t even hold a candle to how good this movie is. It really sets you up for the way they use drums as editing during the film. It’s terrific. And still doesn’t even hold a candle to the actual film.

7. The Gambler

Maybe I’m just a sucker for Gimme Shelter. It also sets up the scenario and what’s gonna happen in the film. And makes me completely ready to see it. This is exactly my kind of movie. And… all right, it’s probably Gimme Shelter. But whatever. I like what I like. But this does do a good job of introducing you to the stakes and makes you interested to see how things turn out. So it’s not just Gimme Shelter. It is a really good trailer.

6. A Most Violent Year

“This was very disrespectful.” Can’t get enough of that. Also, I think we know by now how much of a fan I am of the 70s period pieces with the 70s music. That is my alley. Remember, I’m someone whose favorite trailer for years was the American Gangster trailer. This is my kind of trailer.

5. The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies

Look — there are certain inalienable truths. And these trailers being on this list is one of them. They just make me feel at home. And they’re always really well cut, and they set you up really well for the movies. They make the movies seem better than they are. The use of music this one is quite good. I think we’ve learned that if you put a really good, epic song in there, I’m pretty much sold on your trailer. But also, this is a very evocative trailer. It sets up the end of the trilogy really well and makes you excited for the end of the story. What more can you ask of two and a half minutes?

4. Interstellar

I made sure it was this trailer in particular. This one really makes you excited for the movie. Still gives me goosebumps. Uses Michael Caine perfectly. The first trailer was good, which focused on him leaving and all that, but this one gives you a great sense of the scope of the whole thing and all of the different emotions involved. Really gives you the sense of wonder you need going into a movie like this. It’s a perfect trailer.

3. Birdman

PERFECT song choice. Tell me you don’t watch this and start nodding along to it immediately. It’s so perfect, too. Really leaves you wondering what the hell this is gonna be, and is just so well cut. And then there’s the underwear fight. And the drums at the end. A+ trailer.

2. Inherent Vice

I’ll admit this one grew on me. For some reason I didn’t love this the first two times I saw it. But now, after a dozen watches — it’s perfect. The music, the noir voiceover, the use of exposition, the weird shit, the Josh Brolin Japanese interlude in the middle — and then the Sam Cooke climax. Perfect. It’s a great trailer.

1. Godzilla

How could it not be? I mean, this trailer — this one changed everything for me. This is another level of brilliant. They don’t tell you what it is at the beginning, so you watch, wondering what it’s gonna be, and then there’s such great images, like the clouds and the smoke, and then all the brilliant wide shots. And then it takes 70 seconds to realize what this movie is. And even then, if you don’t catch it in time, there’s still another 35 seconds before they really show you what it is. And then the money shot of the roar — you really can’t ask for anything more in a trailer. This sets you up perfectly for the movie. No trailer made me more excited to see a film this year than this one. The marketing for this movie was perfect, and this was by far my favorite trailer of the year. By a very substantial margin.

– – – – – – – – – –

Tomorrow, I start counting down my favorite movie posters of 2014.


2 responses

  1. That Men Women & Children was amazing. Made the movie all the more disappointing.

    Also, I agree, Comet looks really cool. Mixed reviews, but that’s not always a bad thing.

    And The Mule looks amazing. Really hope that gets some kind of a release.

    December 5, 2014 at 6:15 pm

  2. I can’t even imagine watching movies without having seen the trailers beforehand. Great choices!

    December 5, 2014 at 7:32 pm

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